The Lowdown On Vegan Leather

What is vegan leather?

Vegan leather is an ethical, cruelty-free and sustainable material made using polyurethane or other non-animal materials.

There are 2 main types of vegan leather; synthetic and natural. Synthetic is basically plastic and is not a good option if you are worried about environmental impact and natural vegan leather is made from organic matter such as pineapple leaves or mushrooms which is a much more environmentally-friendly option.

Thanks to amazing innovation, there is now vegan leather available that is made from cork, mushroom, apple peel and even pineapple leaves.

Vegan leather is versatile, durable and looks great. It is cruelty free and gives you a leather style and feel without the involvement of animals.

Synthetic Vegan Leather

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is not often used as “vegan leather” but it is usually found in cheap leather products. This is because it is very affordable and can be sold cheaply.

An item labelled as vegan leather is usually PU (polyurethane), PU leather is more expensive than PVC but is made in a more sustainable way and remains cheaper than leather.

Is faux leather, alternative leather and synthetic leather the same as vegan leather? Yes. These are all names for the same product, leather made from non-animal materials.

Natural Vegan Leather

Vegan Leather Made From Pineapple

Pinatex is a leather that is made using pineapple leaves. The pineapple leaves are a by-product of pineapple farming and instead of being burned or left to rot, the leaves are taken and go through a decortication process before the fibres are converted into a mesh-like material. Pineapple leaves are biodegradable but the resins that are used in the Pinatex coating are not meaning it is not 100% biodegradable.

Pinatex (Pineapple Leather)

Vegan Leather Made From Cork

Cork leather is a great material for wallets, bags, shoes, luggage and more. It is made using bark from Cork Oak Trees and is durable, lightweight and fire resistant (to an extent). Cork leather is able to last around 20 years without experiencing wear and tear.

Cork Leather Material

Vegan Leather Made From Mushroom

Mushroom leather is made from the roots of the mushroom plant. It is incredibly durable, waterproof and is relatively quick and easy to produce. It is also 100% biodegradable

These are just a few of the many vegan leather products that are being innovated around the world… Apple peels, orange peels, algae, cactus, barkcloth and even paper are being used to make natural, sustainable vegan leather too.

MuSkin (Mushroom Leather)

Pros and Cons Of Different Vegan Leather Types

Type Of Vegan LeatherProsCons
PVCAnimal-friendlyHarmful to the environment due to toxic compounds and pollutants
Not sustainable
PUWidely used
More eco-friendly than PVC leather
Cruelty free
Looks similar to traditional leather
Made from non-renewable resources
Not sustainable
PinatexUsing an agricultural bi-product
Doesn’t require additional raw environmental resources to produce
Feels like traditional leather
Not 100% biodegradable due to coating
Cork LeatherSustainable
Stain resistant
Organic texture
Long production process
Limited design capabilities (you can’t alter what cork leather looks like as much as other types)
Mushroom LeatherEnvironmentally sustainable
Similar feeling to leather suede
Best suited to darker-coloured leather products (although this comes down to personal preference)

Vegan Leather FAQs

Is vegan leather good for the environment? Yes, if you choose natural vegan leather (made from organic matter) it is good for the environment. Natural vegan leather is sustainable, cruelty-free and biodegradable. Synthetic vegan leather (PVC & PU) are not good for the environment.

Is vegan leather worth it? Yes, natural vegan leather looks and feels great, is highly durable and eco-friendly. It is easy to maintain and there are loads of material options and styles to choose from. Vegan leather lasts a long time and involves no harm to people or animals.

Is vegan leather durable? Yes vegan leather is durable. How durable it is and how long it will last depends on the materials used. Synthetic leather is not as durable as other options so, if possible, go for natural vegan leather. Natural vegan leather offers similar durability to traditional leather.

Are vegan leather shoes durable? Yes, as long as you choose ones that are high quality and well made, they are just as durable as non-vegan leather.

Does vegan leather last? Natural vegan leather lasts incredibly well. It can last longer than traditional leather and it does not crack or scratch easily.

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